Air Travel. An expensive exercise for residents even with the current 50% discount


An announcement by the State Government that there was to be a cut in the budget for resident's discounts on air and sea travel has been met with dismay, not only in Menorca but also the other Balearic Islands, the Canaries, Ceuta and Melilla, all of which currently benefit from a significant reduction in the tariffs.

It was announced that a cap would be put on discounts on the dearest tourist class tickets, so that not all the fare would be subject to the 50% reduction. At present the capping only applies to business class fares. As an example, a business class return from Palma to Madrid costs around 800 euros. The 50% discount is only applied up to the maximum tourist class tariff of 625 euros and the other 175 euros do not qualify for discount.

In a meeting held in Palma last week, the Balearic Committee for Air Transport unanimously agreed a resolution expressing its concern over the cut in air travel discounts announced by the Ministry responsible. The document also demands that any modifications to the existing system of discounts be made with the agreement of the Balearic Government and the Island Councils.

The Menorcan Councillor for Transport, Damià Borràs, who was present at the meeting, states that any changes introduced to the residents' air travel discount system must be favourable to the user so that there are no negative repercussions on the citizen's wallet nor, by extension, on the island's economy.

Dearer flights

The Balearic Councillor for the Environment and Transport, Gabriel Vicens, admitted last week that flights in the Balearic Islands (without the deduction of the residents' discount) are 37% dearer than in the other autonomous regions, a percentage that rises to 52% in the case of Menorca and Ibiza.

Two reports presented at the Transport Committee's last meeting bear out this fact. One, carried out by a British consultancy firm which specialises in transport, Advanced Logistics Group, draws comparisons between similar flights and finds, in some cases, that even after deducting the residents' discount the cost is 15% higher in the Balearic Islands than it is on the mainland.

The other report shows that the maximum price on flights between Mallorca and Menorca has increased by 16% since price flexibility was approved in April 2008 and by 22% since the introduction of the Declaration of Public Service in November 2003 (setting the price of a single ticket at 84 euros which can be increased up to a maximum of 25% but only if there is a proportional reduction on other tickets), despite the fact that the residents' discount was increased from 33% to 50% during this period.